Khona: Challenging Masculinity in Africa

mafikizolo

Thorne Godinho

A South African blogger, freelance writer, and the founder of The ChirpRoom – a liberal youth blog. He moonlights as a published researcher, interested in public policy and human rights. He serves as an Editor of the Pretoria Student Law Review (PSLR). @ThorneGo

Mafikizolo, a South African singing duo, have been taking over Africa’s airwaves with their hit song ‘Khona’ (featuring UHURU). Whilst the group achieves continental success with this call for lost love to be returned, the song’s music video has also been challenging the representation of masculinity in Africa.

Gender stereotypes are steadfastly promoted by both custom and a conservative brand of Evangelical Christianity gaining popularity across the continent, but Khona’s music video features several male dancers who stand out from the other selection of background dancers. These skinny dancers with their tight synthetic gold outfits perform in front of colourful patterned wall-painting, whilst their often larger (and more masculine) counterparts wear more traditional clothing.

Although Mafikizolo haven’t been forthcoming on any symbolic meaning behind the placement of these dancers, their bold decision to place them so prominently could still be seen as a potentially dangerous idea on a continent where homosexuality is illegal in 34 countries. The acceptance of difference in a traditional setting isn’t just bold; it speaks to the reality of plurality – as does this video. The music video clearly contrasts traditional culture with modernity but could also be a popular starting point for the acceptance of masculinity which isn’t merely a cultural, religious or societal performance.